Reiterated by Matthew Fox, June 28, 2020
In the US the richest 1 percent of the country own substantially more wealth than the bottom 90%; 6 in 10 Americans do not have the resources to come up with $1000 for an emergency such as a medical bill or car repair. World over, 26 billionaires hold personal financial assets greater than 50% of humanity. For carbon emissions, 10% of the richest people on earth account for 50% of the carbon emissions. Our species is currently consuming 1.7 times what Earth’s regenerative systems can sustain.
David Korten suggests 3 tasks that can help turn the tide.
- Redirect purpose from growing GDP to securing the wellbeing of people and the planet. Since “Growing GDP is detrimental to the wellbeing of people and Earth,” we need to redirect the very purpose of economics.
- Redirect power from money-seeking corporations to life-serving communities. To accomplish this, “equitable distribution of ownership rights and responsibilities must be enshrined in both law and culture.” Individualism must yield to a community awareness, that is to the common good and to justice.
- Launching healthy, meaningful, and productive lives. “We lack adequate attention to the care and development of all our children to reach their full potential.”
The pandemic, Korten believes, can give us space to step back and evaluate who we are as a species and where we want to go and how an intelligent and working economic system can assist us achieve our goals and values. See, David Korten on a New Economics See, David Korten on a “New Economy of Life” See, Values & Economics – Imagine That! Korten, Continued
Excerpt from Andre Vltchek, https://popularresistance.org/why-is-this-ongoing-american-revolution-bound-to-fail/, Popular Resistance. June 27, 2020 | STRATEGIZE!
An expert on Communist China, a man who spent many years living and writing books about the most populous country on Earth, Jeff Brown, described, accurately, on his China Rising Radio Sinoland, what has been taking place in his native country, United States:
“Protests in the USA, land of Marlboro Man will come to nothing because there is no solidarity, no vision, nor guiding ideology to unite the people in the common struggle against the 1%. Just ask the Black Panthers and Mao Zedong.”
This is precisely when ‘guiding ideology’ is desperately needed! But it is nowhere to be found.
For years and decades, the US (and European) elites and their mass media, as well as their educational plus ‘entertainment’ outlets, have been systematically de-politicizing the brains of their citizens. Pornography, consumerism, and sitcoms instead of deep, philosophical books and films. Massive travel, instead of roaming the world in search of knowledge, answers, while building bridges between different cultures (even between those of victims and victimizers).
Results are increasingly evident.
Citizens in the Western countries were told that the ideologies, particularly the left ones, became “something that belongs to the past,” “something heavy,” unattractive, and definitely not ‘cool.’ Western masses accepted it easily, without realizing that without the left-wing ideologies, there can be no change, no revolution, and no organized opposition to the regime, which has been plundering the world for several hundreds of years.
They were told that Democrats are representing left-wing, and Republicans, right-wing. Deep inside, many felt it is rubbish. There is only one right-wing political party in the US – Democrat-Republican one. But it was better for the great majority just to ignore its own instincts and swim with the flow.
It went so far that most of the people in North America and Europe reached the point when they were not even able to commit themselves to almost anything, anymore, from socialist movements to marriages and relationships. I recently described this occurrence in my book “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism.”
There are many explanations for this. One of them: regime created society built on extreme individualism, selfishness, and shallow perception of the world. To organize, to commit, actually requires at least some discipline, effort, and definitely great dedicated effort to learn (about the world, a person, or a movement) and to work hard for a better world. It is not easy to become a revolutionary when one is positioned on a couch, or a gym, or while banging for hours every day into a smartphone.
The results are sad. Anarchism, consisting of countless fragmented approaches, is increasingly popular, but it will definitely not change the country.
When leaders of the ‘revolutionary commune’ in Seattle were approached by sympathetic journalists and asked about their goals, they could not answer. These were, undoubtfully, people with good intentions, outraged by racism, and by the killing of innocent people. But do they have plans, strategy, an organization to overthrow the system which is literally choking billions of lives on all continents? Definitely not!
On June 11, 2020, RT filed a report about the situation in Seattle:
“A few different organizations have different demands, and no one speaks for everyone, but everyone’s trying to get together,” Simone clarified, implying that the much-discussed list of “demands” that have circulated for the past few days don’t represent the wishes of the entire community. However, there are a few lines of commonality running through the settlement.
“Everyone’s upset. We all came here in unity, just over the fact that cops need accountability,” he said, declaring that his decision to join the demonstration was about “trying to send a message and get accountability held.”
“Now we’re here – let’s get the dialogue going,” Simone continued, unwilling to commit to taking over other precincts, expanding the Zone, or any of the ambitious demands made by others in the group.”
Russian Bolsheviks had it clear, and the same could be said about their followers. Before the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution, they spent years and decades educating people all over their vast country. Some of the greatest thinkers and writers, including novelist Maxim Gorky and poet Vladimir Mayakovski, were participating in the “project.” Even simple peasants were easily grasping the reality of their dismal existence while getting inspired by some of the greatest minds of their nation. If not for the Cold War and West’s brutal interference, the Soviet Union would survive and thrive until this day.
The same could be said about the great revolutionary struggles of China, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Venezuela, where hundreds of millions of tremendous works of philosophy, fiction and poetry have been distributed, for free, to both peasants and workers, who easily understood and got inspired by them. In China, in the 1930s, the entire so-called “Shanghai School of Cinema” was born, a true socialist-realism movement that helped to educate the Chinese public about the state in which it was forced to exist.
Big and successful revolutions were constructed and then supported by the educated urban and rural poor, who were awakened and consequently outraged by their position in the society.
Unfortunately, the rebellion in the United States is strategically shallow. There are no great leaders, no cultural figures leading it, no extraordinary educators.
Without any doubt, there are clear reasons for rage and resistance. Racism is one tremendous one.
And, there are other ones: US society, in general, is tired as it is depressed. As it is confused. The country is robbing, literally looting the entire Planet. It tortures people in various countries. Rainforests are burning in Indonesia, Brazil, and Congo to satisfy demands for more palm oil and other raw materials. US citizens are consuming as no other nation under the sun does. They entertain themselves, often living frivolous, empty lives. And yet, almost no one seems to be happy there; no one satisfied.
People know something went essentially wrong, but they are not sure precisely what it is. Or, who should really be blamed?
There is an acute lack of solidarity. And everything is happening impromptu.
Are the ‘members of the majority’ in the US truly kneeling because they are in unison with the oppressed minorities and the brutalized non-Western world? Or are they “trying to save their own skin,” and at the end, keep the status quo intact, as has happened in Australia and their basically insincere “We Are Sorry!” 2008 movement?
There no strong “front,” there is no revolutionary program. It appears that the country is not ready, not prepared, for a huge job of re-defining itself.
Insecurity is due to the lack of free medical care, education, and subsidized housing. Most of the people are in debt. Depression is, at least partially, due to overconsumption of intellectual and emotional junk. There is plenty of fundamentalist religions, but almost no discussion about how to improve life in this world.
Segregated, atomized, and otherwise, fragmented society seems to be unable to give birth to a truly compassionate, egalitarian national project.
Many US citizens see themselves as “victims.” Ethnic minorities definitely are. Are the others, too? Who is the victim, and who is the perpetrator? On which side of the scales sits a regular middle-class family, compliant and, by global comparison, heavily indulged in overconsumption? So far, there is no open discussion on this topic. In fact, it is being avoided by all means.
There seems to be at least some consensus that 1% of the richest is to blame, as well as the entire corporate and political system, and also banks. But what about the majority; those individuals who keep voting the system, those who are making sure to ignore imperialism, racism, inequality?
Many questions should be asked, particularly now, but they are not. Very uncomfortable questions they are.
But without asking them, without searching for honest answers, there is no way forward, and no true revolution possible.
The neoliberal system created entire nations that cannot think independently and creatively. US is definitely one of them. People were bombarded with propaganda slogans that they are free, enjoying liberties. But when the day to act arrived, there has been nothing substantial in terms of new, revolutionary ideas. Just one enormous void. Nothing that could inspire the nation and the world.
The outrage over the brutal police killing propelled millions of people to the streets. The mood has been truly rebellious, revolutionary, geared for big changes.
But then, nothing!
Revolution is being postponed. Opportunities lost. Postpone by how many years?
The truth is – there are no shortcuts. Those who sincerely want to change the United States will have to follow the revolutionary formula from other countries. The formula is mainly based on education, knowledge, and determined, selfless work for the country and the world, called “internationalism.”
Unless the US comes up with an absolutely new strategy, formula, but right now, frankly, it seems to be extremely far from coming up with it!
First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook – a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Six of his latest books are “New Capital of Indonesia”, “China Belt and Road Initiative”, “China and Ecological Civilization” with John B. Cobb, Jr., “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism”, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and Latin America, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website, his Twitter and Patreon.
BIPARTISAN CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN THE UNITED STATES
Responsibility To Protect?
The US committed crimes against humanity by creating the conditions that led to sickness and death for vulnerable sectors of the U.S. population.
“Police killings and impunity are part of a pattern of racist human rights abuses.”
Hundreds of people are unnecessarily dying every day with African Americans (and other people of color – the shock absorbers in the capitalist system) representing a disproportionate number of those deaths. Eighty million people are now without health coverage, millions are unemployed, over the next two months evictions will resume with an expected explosion of homelessness. And what is the response from the state that is tasked with the responsibility to promote and protect the fundamental human rights of its population? While trillions of dollars were transferred to the corporate sector though the CARES Act meant to support the economy through the crisis, the state continues to ignore the existential crisis faced by millions of workers.
The zeal to save the economy at the cost of the systematic violation of every idea of a social contract to safeguard the rights of the people, along with the deliberate decisions not to marshal the resources of the state to ensure that everyone had access to the full range of medical care available, constitutes crimes against humanity by the U.S. state.
The right to health is a human right. However, in blatant disregard for that right, the Trump Administration, with the full cooperation of the corporate sector, advocated opening the economy amid rising cases of COVID-19. Trump even used the power of the state to force workers to report to work at meat processing plants that were inundated with COVID-19 infections . These policies not only represented a cruel and inhumane disregard for the health and lives of workers but are international crimes.
Yet, one of the most egregious examples of the heartless contempt for the humanity and the human rights of the people since World War Two was occurring right before our eyes with impunity, until the people went to the streets sparked by the gruesome murder of George Floyd.
But with the focus on George Floyd and the series of murders by the police, the demand raised for something called justice, and by extension some kind of police reform process, obscured the gravity of the human rights violations and crimes against humanity that were occurring. This focus had the effect of shifting attention away from the systemic violence of capitalist oppression that created the underlying conditions and comorbidity in which COVID-19 overwhelmed the Black community with death.
“The demand raised for something called justice obscured the gravity of the human rights violations and crimes against humanity that were occurring.”
The shift in focus was largely accidental. The people erupted in righteous anger in a wave of opposition that caught the authorities by surprise by its scope and intensity. Communities, large and small, expressed their outrage at the injustice with acts of solidarity.
Ironically, however, these beautiful acts of solidarity and struggle not only helped to almost disappear the issue of COVID-19 and its devastating impact on the Black community, the focus on “racial justice” and police reform allowed the state to subtly turn the discourse into a system-affirming discourse of potential change and a “we are the world” moment of national solidarity. Everyone from the head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to the most reactionary corporate CEOs voiced their support for “Black Lives Matter.”
Public relations stunts like cops kneeling with protestors or even joining the demos were crude but surprisingly effective attempts to colonize the opposition in some areas and control the narrative. Those attempts were to be expected. However, the ease in which the narrative was refocused toward dead-end policy issues and an anti-Trumpism by the liberal corporate press was troubling.
Return To Human Rights Frame
There would be calls for international prosecutions and even a change in government if any other state outside of the U.S. so egregiously violated its responsibility to protect the human rights of its population. We should demand one standard for all states and embrace the human rights frame.
More than two weeks ago the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) called for United Nations scrutiny related to the ongoing and deepening human rights crisis in the U.S. There were three factors that compelled that call:
— The failure of the U.S. state to protect the human rights of African Americans, who were disproportionately dying from COVID-19.
— The decision to drive workers back to work despite inadequate protections and a gross disregard for their lives in industries like meat processing, which were experiencing high levels of COVID-19 infections among the largely African American and migrant work force.
— And statements made by the President of the United States that indicated he was prepared to use disproportionate force against protestors demonstrating against the murder of George Floyd.
The BAP call was quickly followed up with a communication from groups and individuals from around the world to the UN Human Rights Council making a similar call but with the focus being primarily on the issue of police killings and impunity.
The 54 nation African Group of the United Nations submitted a resolution to the Human Rights Council calling for an urgent debate and an independent international commission of inquiry. The focus of the inquiry would be to investigate systemic racism, systemic violence against African Americans, impunity, and the disproportionate use of police force against Africans and People of African Descent in the United States and other parts of the world.
“The President of the United States that indicated he was prepared to use disproportionate force against protestors.”
The U.S. responded aggressively to the challenge and pressured members of the Council to reject the idea of an international commission of inquiry which would have been historic for the United Nations. The result that was not unexpected was that the Council issued a strong statement and called for an investigation from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The lesson here and the space that still exists on this issue is that the focus by civil society groups, and even the African Group, on the issue of police killings allowed the U.S. to argue that this issue did not raise to the level that required an international inquiry, which has been reserved for more egregious human rights crimes.
For example, while the letter initiated by the U.S. Human Rights Network (USHRN) and the ACLU, and supported by a number of the families of victims of police killings to the UN Human Rights Commission, correctly stated that the police killings in the U.S. were “diverting the gaze of the global community” away from the over 100,000 people who died from coronavirus, the letter’s emphasis on disproportionate responses by police authorities and ongoing police killings with impunity, highlighted those legitimate concerns over the unnecessary death of thousands as a result of government policies.
The U.S. argument that this issue did not raise to level of a special inquiry, especially when compared to government crack downs and police violence in places like Brazil and even France, was embraced by a number of European states and others who subsequently rejected the idea of a special commission.
Had the lead been the decisions by the U.S. state to sacrifice the human rights of its citizens and residents by not providing adequate protections of their rights and consciously making decisions that was obvious would result in sickness and death for vulnerable sectors of the U.S. population, with the issue of police killings and impunity as part of a pattern of racist human rights abuses over time that was fully documented by various human rights treaty monitoring bodies, it might have been much more difficult for the U.S. and their European allies to argue against a commission.
Transcending Legalistic State-Centric Human Rights
The decision by the Human Rights Council should not eliminate the idea of an international commission of inquiry, or the framing of the situation in the U.S. as crimes against humanity and for human rights.
Operating from the Black radical human rights tradition that we have labelled the People(s)-Centered Human Rights framework (PCHR), we do not rely on state-centered international bodies to define, legitimize, or protect human rights.
People(s)-Centered Human Rights (PCHR) are defined as “those non-oppressive rights that reflect the highest commitment to universal human dignity and social justice that individuals and collectives define and secure for themselves through social struggle.”
Therefore, we the people can construct an international commission of inquiry that examines the ongoing crimes against humanity occurring at every level of government in the U.S. with the full assistance of the corporate sector.
But while correctly reframing and exposing the situation in the U.S. is important in the ideological fight, the PCHR approach proceeds from the assumption that the genesis of the assaults on human dignity that are at the core of human rights violations are located in the relationships of oppression.
The PCHRs’ recognizes that the oppressed can petition, expose, get resolutions passed or establish commissions of inquiry, but ultimately the realization of human rights can only be achieved when there is a fundamental alteration of the relations of power and the people rule. That is, when there is a social revolution.
Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. Baraka serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council and leadership body of the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC). He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. He was recently awarded the US Peace Memorial 2019 Peace Prize and the Serena Shirm award for uncompromised integrity in journalism. COVID-19 Health Care Human Rights Police Violence
Inside the United States, one tendency seeks to fulfill the reformist promises propagated by the perpetrators of the myth of American democracy. They push for “reforms” of the police, health care, housing, education, and other institutions by tinkering, fighting for symbolic gestures and tactical concessions that leave the power structure intact. Then there are those of us who have learned from hard experience that the only reforms the American government has shown it is willing to make are cosmetic, designed to pacify peoples’ righteous indignation. We believe that we must recognize, expose and take on the beast – the capitalist profiteering system – to put an end to it once and for all.
The neoliberal consensus among the moneyed interests and both political parties is coming apart. And the “great recession”, austerity, increased exploitation and upsurge in state repression are undermining the acceptance and legitimacy of this strategy among masses of people. This rejection is reflected in the fact that so many people recognize the need for a movement to defend Black life and in the growing popular support for socialism, at least as a vaguely defined concept. This does not mean that austerity and escalating repression will not remain the substance of their program in the midst of this crisis. In fact, they will double down, while attempting to win the acceptance from the mass of people. It would be naïve to think that they won’t attempt to enforce our compliance through direct violence and repression – through deployment of police, the National Guard and other military forces and even private militias.
The political parties of the establishment will attack or try to narrow the vision of the mass movement. They will try to limit the scope of the revolutionary possibilities and potentialities of the current and future moments. They will reassert the myths of “democratic” reform and capitalist correction that only reinforce the perpetuation of the system. In addition to the stick, the liberal operatives of the state have been able to offer some carrots of reform with increasing effect and impact over the course of the of the Floyd rebellion.
The international dimension of the current political and economic crisis is a major factor driving the carnage we are experiencing. The competitive imperative of capitalism is driving capitalists (corporations, banks, etc.) and the imperialist nation-states to ramp up the struggle over market share and profits. This is the central factor compelling governments and businesses to pursue the dangerous and utterly irresponsible openings we are seeing around the world. It is also driving a type of closure. The United States and several so-called western countries have closed their borders, limiting the movement of various populations deemed to be “risks” because of their national origin and race. The right has used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to advance their racist, xenophobic politics. As we’ve seen too many times in history, it is easy for settler-colonial and European political forces to whip up xenophobic “unity” against a declared enemy. This is often framed in the fallacious claim that “whether rich or poor, capitalist or worker, oppressed person of color or white supremacist we are all in this together.” It’s a particularly dangerous pitch when it is used to stir up nationalistic support for moves, including threats of war, against rival states – as is now the case with China.
When they try to divide the movement, we must struggle to unite it. Voices on all sides are attempting to divide the movement between “good” and “bad” protesters, between “peaceful” marchers and those engaged in “violence” and property destruction. Protestors are called “outside agitators” to drive a wedge between supporters and the Black people most affected by police violence. This message is being broadcast loudly, by forces of the far right, as well as liberals and even among some on the left. It takes many forms, often boosting scattershot efforts by organized fascist forces from the state or right wing militias to infiltrate or discredit the movement in the streets. This narrative serves the interests of capital, reinforcing the divisions it has long imposed and unequally rewarded.
We must be clear that this is a movement to defend people, not property. We affirm the unprecedented level of support for this movement that for the first time in history goes well beyond that of Black people living in the United States and the already-organized left. We have to build on that support and transform it into concrete solidarity with the same scope. The movement as it stands is a good start; a multiracial mass uprising with an infusion of young new Black leaders, militants and organizers at the forefront.
The far right is not the only danger to this movement. We have seen in recent years as well as in historic struggles, that militant rebellion for Black liberation can be diverted off the streets and other organizing spaces into toothless reforms. It can be channeled into recuperation and self-advancement by individuals and instruments of the ruling class, in the form of NGO advocacy, purely symbolic forms of representation, Party politics, legalistic court battles, and attempts at bureaucratic solutions to fundamental contradictions. All this in an effort to sidetrack and absorb the revolutionary energy of the people.
This time, we must be vigilant and aware of these processes as they begin, and, instead of accepting “leadership” from any who present themselves, develop, build and support our own, in the form of democratic, broad, accountable and sustainable Black and working class organization.
We call on all forces fighting for our lives: We call on the organized left, unions and other workers’ organizations, tenant organizations, those fighting for Indigenous and Black self-determination, Latinx organizations, immigrants-rights and anti-racist forces, feminist, queer and LGBTQ organizations, ecosocialist formations and more, who stand for broad solidarity against the far-right and the ruling class. We call on all to take up the task this moment and movement has given us. We call on these forces for solidarity to:
Join the movement in the streets by following the lead and level of militancy of the Black and Brown youth leading the struggle on the ground. Help elevate the transformative demands being raised and raise the fundamental demands of the People’s Strike. Build relationships with other principled forces and individuals who are also showing up. Whatever tactics you engage in, resist attempts to divide and conquer and narratives of good/bad protesters and tactics.
We must publicly resist and condemn not only divisive narratives, but repression of the movement in all its forms, from direct assault and attack, prosecution, punitive bureaucratic delays by courts and police, targeted attacks on immigrants and other vulnerable groups, vigilante and far-right violence, curfews, and any tactics by authorities to impose apartheid-like restrictions on geographic movement between Black and working class neighborhoods and the centers of commerce and/or white affluence.
Strike, launch sickouts, slowdowns, walkouts in union and non-union workplaces. Do it as international or local unions, as union caucuses and as cross-sectoral labor organizations. We should build on the solidarity already shown by Transit Workers in many cities; in defense of Black Lives we must first refuse to aid and abet the police. We can fight to remove police officers from all union formations, and to organize in work places around the principle highlighted by street protest–against criminalization and humiliation of all workers on the job, against the targeting and scapegoating of Black workers, against racist disparities in hiring, pay, work assignment and opportunity.
We should organize to feed and protect protesters with whatever is needed: hand sanitizer and masks, first aid, legal aid and bail money, with housing and shelter in moments of crackdown, but also food and clothing. We should build and extend ongoing efforts that take up not just the needs of protesters, but those of the unhoused, the unemployed and others suffering in the midst of pandemic and economic meltdown.
Spontaneous popular assemblies have already begun to take place in a number of cities where the uprising is ongoing; these can be a space of deliberation of strategizing tactics and relationship building. Popular education can take place in many forums. They should include movement history, skill sharing and more.
We can prepare for the immediate future of the uprising and for what comes after by consolidating our existing organizations, or by forming new ones. We need to provide political space for new radicals, organizers and militants to recover, reflect and regroup. We should build united fronts of solidarity between and among old and new organizations wherever we can.
We invite all forces who are defending Black lives and fighting to forge a radically different future to join us in discussion, strategy and planning for all this and more, and to commit to planning monthly coordinated actions as we enter a new period of intensifying struggle. We are offering a platform for promoting your already ongoing efforts to organize tenants, workers, mutual aid and anti-austerity, anti-imperialist forces and for connecting with many more organizations who share these aims in the struggle for liberation, and a society built on new foundations.